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Forestry runoff ruling appealed

Published on October 8, 2010 3:01AM

Last changed on November 5, 2010 10:20AM

Oregon forestry officials have asked a federal appeals court to reconsider a ruling that imposes Clean Water Act permit requirements on runoff from logging roads.

Oregon State Forester Marvin Brown and members of the Oregon Board of Forestry submitted a petition on Oct. 5 asking that a broader panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rehear the case.

In August, a three-judge panel from the 9th Circuit ruled that runoff from logging roads contains sediment and pollutants that harm water quality and sensitive species.

If such runoff is collected and conveyed through roadside ditches and culverts, it qualifies as a "point source" of pollution that's subject to regulations under the federal Clean Water Act, according to the ruling.

State forestry officials say the decision is flawed and doesn't follow past precedents established by the 9th Circuit, such as the authority of federal agencies to interpret environmental laws.

The three-judge panel impermissibly substituted its judgment for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by declaring that logging is an "industrial activity," even though the agency specifically excluded it from that definition, the petition said.

The American Forest and Paper Association and the Oregon Forest Industries Council, which represent the industry, were joined by several timber companies in filing a separate petition for a rehearing before the 9th Circuit.

-- Mateusz Perkowski


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